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Congressman shares local connection during county visit

Staff writer

Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, is an El Dorado native, but says he has a connection to Marion County through his junior high coach, Gary Melcher.

“I spent more time with him than my own parents,” he said.

He played football, basketball, and ran track for Melcher while attending school at El Dorado, and decades later Melcher has remained a key supporter, Marshall said.

“He was one of the first people to speak up for me on social media,” he said. “Why would this coach from El Dorado be sticking up for a physician from Great Bend running for Congress. I was blown away.”

Marshall addressed county residents during a town hall at Marion City Library Friday, answering questions on everything from education and wind energy, to abortion and Medicaid.

“What we can do as a community is make sure that when kids are sophomores in high school, they’re already plugged in to a community college or technical college,” he said prior to the town hall. “By the time they graduate, maybe they have 25 credits toward that technology degree.”

Moving students on to higher education is important, but that doesn’t have to exclude labor jobs, Marshall said.

“All across the state, welding jobs, wind technology, really great jobs are available making $50,000 to $80,000 a year,” he said. “We have to make sure our kids are properly educated.”

Another important point for the federal government is giving local communities the flexibility to best care for residents with disabilities, Marshall said.

“When I go across the state, what I hear is that so many of the rules of the federal government trying to take care of people with special needs seem to be unreasonable,” he said.
“My quest is finding what we can do to roll back the regulations. The local people in Marion know best how to take care of their people with special needs.”

An obstetrician by trade, Marshall said he has never performed an abortion.

“When young, single moms didn’t know what to do, I would be the one trying to help her through the pregnancy, helping her get the social and financial support she needed,” he said prior to the town hall.

During his time in the field, he also served as Great Bend Regional Hospital’s board chairman. That time taught him that hospitals should be less heavily reliant on Medicaid, Marshall said at the town hall.

“I ran the Great Bend Hospital for 15 years,” he said. “We lost money on every Medicaid patient. The amount of money they reimbursed us was not enough to cover the cataract, let alone the nurses.”

Wind farms were another topic that was touched on. Marshall said he was unsure of reports that the turbines pose a health threat, but said he sees them as an asset for energy production.

“Twenty years ago, the argument was that the wind wasn’t always blowing,” he said. “Now there’s enough infrastructure that the wind is blowing somewhere in Kansas all the time. We’re able to send that energy up, down, and across the state.”

One benefit is the current federal subsidy plan will phase out in the next few years, Marshall said.

“There is a sunset on them,” he said.

The Production Tax Credit, which provides federal subsidies for wind farm companies, is set to begin phasing out in 2022, and fully expire in 2025.

Last modified April 10, 2019

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